Baklava is nothing new to me, at least in the sense that I’ve been eating it since I could eat solid food. However it is something new to try to make it myself. I don’t think many people have actually made this at home before. For most, it’s an unusual and exotic dessert. There is something about baklava that really is addictive, perhaps it’s the pure sugar and honey syrup that permeates every bite that gets us hooked.
I had bought some fillo dough for making Spanikopita (spinach pie) and only used half of the package. One night I had been looking in the freezer and saw it there and was inspired to try making baklava. It just sounded so good at that moment, I looked up a recipe online and found out I had everything I needed to make it, or at least close enough…I used cashews instead of walnuts for the filling (and sprinkled a bit on top too).
The recipe I used was easy enough to follow. But, it takes a LONG time to assemble it and then also make the syrup. I now know why this stuff is so expensive. You really have to work with every layer, butter each layer, and stack them, fill the middle layer, then complete the rest of the layers, cut, and bake. Then you have to make the syrup too which you will need after it’s done baking.
I’ve watched videos where some people just stack it, fill the middle layer with nuts, then stack the remainder all first, then cut it, then pour the butter on top, but I’m not sure how it would come out, since that isn’t the method called for in the recipe.
To my surprise, all my efforts were rewarded. I had made a really excellent baklava on the first try. Taste-wise, it was perfect, the syrup, dough, and filling were great. The overall product was a little bit on the soft side on the bottom layers, not too bad though, but it wasn’t as stiff and dry as most baklava I’ve had at restaurants. If I had to choose, I would rather have the softer layers instead of really dry ones. I also used a butter substitute, the “healthy” kind, made from vegetable oil, that could have been why it was softer, since it wasn’t pure fat.
I’ve made it three times now, and the last time was really good, I used a little bit less of the butter substitute and it wasn’t as soggy. It’s very hard to resist, baklava certainly has its charms. My husband absolutely loves it. It’s one of the very few desserts where he can’t resist a second serving (or third).